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Technical Reports

2015 Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) Summary

The PEA was commissioned in January 2015 with Samuel Engineering Inc. (“SE”) to re-evaluate the Idaho Cobalt Project (ICP) to produce cobalt chemicals in response to improving financial markets and the projected bullish long-term demand for cobalt. The April 29, 2015 PEA’s economic model uses a 35% corporate tax rate and an 8.5% discount rate, resulting in an after tax NPV of $113 million and an IRR of 24.07%. A pro forma cash flow was developed using conventional methodology utilizing the base case 8.5% discount rate, before and after tax determination of project economics, annual cash flows discounted on an end of year basis with costs estimated in first quarter 2015 U.S. Dollars. A summary of the Life of Mine (LOM) economic results are shown in the following table. Note all monetary values used in the economic results of the PEA are in US$.

Pre-Tax NPV8.5%: $148 million, IRR 27.7%
Post-Tax NPV8.5%: $113 million, IRR 24.07%
Initial Capital Costs: $147 million
Life of Mine (LOM): 12.5 years post preproduction
EBITDA: $515 million
LOM Gross Revenue: $983 million
LOM Total Net After Tax Cash Flow $258 million
LOM Average Net Cash Cobalt Production Cost:
(net of gold, copper and magnesium credits)
$4.94 per pound
Pre-Tax Initial Capital Payback:
3.7 years
LOM Cobalt Production: 35,356,415 pounds
LOM Copper Production: 57,384,700 pounds
LOM Gold Production:
(including ounces in copper con and doré)
46,858 ounces

The total LOM capital cost is estimated at $201.41 million, including $146.76 million for initial capital, and $54.65 million in sustaining capital and mine development capital during production over the LOM. These estimates do not include past investment totaling $65.31 million.

The total LOM cash production cost is estimated at $468.73 million or $13.26/lb of processed cobalt contained in cobalt sulfate heptahydrate and $175.58 million or $4.94/lb of processed cobalt sulfate heptahydrate net of by-product credits.

The PEA is based on an underground mine with a target production rate of 800 tons per day with a weighted average annual production of 2,771,000 lbs cobalt, 4,533,000 lbs copper and 3,600 oz gold over a 12.5 year mine life with an estimated pre-production period of 21 months utilizing a 0.25% cobalt cut-off. The PEA utilizes an updated resource, mine model and mine schedule with intentions to produce cobalt, copper sulfate chemicals, and gold at the CPF.

The PEA reported mill feed and internal recoveries at the CPF will be 90.99% for cobalt, 92.76% for copper, and 78.46% for gold. Overall recoveries for copper and gold include metals contained in the copper concentrate as well as leached products. All magnesium that is input as MgO (Magnesium Oxide) is recovered as MgSO4 (Magnesium Sulfate) in the current model for this study.

Earlier in 2015, Mine Developments and Associates (MDA) updated the ICP’s Ram deposit estimate of cobalt, copper, and gold resources into a three-dimensional block model to be used for mine planning, design, and scheduling. This information forms part of the PEA with an effective date of March 10, 2015. MDA had previously estimated the resources for the Ram deposit. Cobalt, copper, and gold reported resources are shown in the table below. The stated resource is diluted throughout the entire 6 feet by 2 feet by 5 feet blocks that are equal to or above the cut-off grade of 0.2% cobalt. There is approximately 15% dilution in the stope designs. The copper and gold resources are those resources carried within the blocks which attain the cobalt cut-off grade. No metal value is given to the copper or gold in determining the Co resource cut-off. No metal recoveries are applied, as this is an in-situ resource.

Conclusions from SE and MDA are that the ICP contains a viable cobalt and base metal resource that can be successfully mined by underground methods and recovered with conventional processing. Using the assumptions contained in the PEA, SE and MDA report the project is economic and should proceed to the feasibility stage.

The Company cautions this PEA is preliminary in nature, and is based on technical and economic assumptions which are currently being evaluated in further feasibility level studies. The PEA is based on the current (as at March 10, 2015) ICP estimated resource model, which consists of material in both the measured/indicated and inferred classifications. Inferred mineral resources are considered too speculative geologically to have technical and economic considerations applied to them outside the scope of a PEA. The current basis of project information is not sufficient to convert the mineral resources to mineral reserves, and mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. Accordingly, there can be no certainty that the results estimated in the PEA will be realized.

Metallurgical Test Work Summary

On March 3, 2016 the Company announced metallurgical results on bench test production of cobalt sulfate heptahydrate crystals produced from ore samples from the ICP. SE was the Company’s lead engineer coordinating the metallurgical test work. eCobalt expects our final end product will meet the quality standards for high purity cobalt sulfate chemicals based on extensive metallurgical work and successful modifications to the Mill and CPF flowsheets by SE, positive results from Cytec Industries Inc., and successful testing by General Electric’s Water and Process Technologies Group.

The development of the modified flow sheets outlines a critical path forward for eCobalt. SE has previously recommended that the project development activities be advanced to support and produce a Feasibility Study. The finalization of the modified flow sheets allows for such advancement.

Feasibility Study (FS) in Progress

On June 21, 2016, the Company announced that it has signed an agreement with Micon for technical services to conduct a FS on the ICP. Micon will be subcontracting aspects of the study concerning the processing, infrastructural engineering, risk assessment, project scheduling, and cost estimating to SNC-Lavalin. Initial results from the FS are expected to be delivered to the Company in calendar Q3 2017. As at June 23, 2017, the Company reported progress on the FS in the following disciplines as follows:

  • Geology and Resources: Preparation of the relevant sections of the National Instrument 43-101 compliant technical report is in progress with a draft of the relevant sections of the report currently under review.
  • Geotechnical Studies: Flotation tailings obtained from the SGS Lakefield test-work is currently being utilized in paste backfill tests conducted by Patterson & Cooke.
  • Mining and Reserves: A preliminary mine production schedule has been provided to Small Mine Developers (“SMD”). SMD will prepare a contract mining cost estimate for the preproduction period Year -1, and operating Years +1 and +2. These estimates will include the initial mine development costs for the first two years, surface and underground mining equipment, electrical and communication design, backfill and dewatering system design, compressed air supply and ventilation.
  • CPF: After a positive review of the Geotechnical Drilling results from the Blackfoot industrial property located in southern Idaho, the purchase of the property was completed. This has allowed the Company to initiate the permitting of the site for construction and operation and further assess and finalize engineering requirements. The Blackfoot property was chosen for its excellent infrastructure including low cost electrical grid power, paved road, adjacent rail, potable water, and access to the local municipal water treatment plant. In addition, Blackfoot is located along Highway 15 between Pocatello and Idaho Falls giving the Company access to a large pool of skilled labor.
  • Engineering Design: All material take-off’s (determining all materials required to accomplish the design and costing) and equipment lists have been provided to the estimating team and are being incorporated into the project costs.

The proposed underground mine development layout has been optimized to minimize the scheduled lead time while providing access to stopes of above average grade early in the mine life to assist in minimizing mine payback schedule. Equipment requirements and layouts for both plants have been finalized and material take-offs (determining all materials required to accomplish the design and costing) have been quantified. In addition, SNC-Lavalin has completed its review and revision of the basic process engineering for the mill/concentrator and the CPF.